The Maria Island Walk is 4 day guided walk on Maria Island, a 20km long island off the eastern coast of Tasmania. The walk traverses the island’s entire length, totalling around 34km depending on which optional side trips are taken. I have done a bit of walking in my time and I found this particular walk to be very unique. Below I’ve listed what I consider to be the key experiences of my time on the island. I hope you get a chance to visit Maria Island and do the walk someday. It brought me much enjoyment, and has left me wanting to return and explore the island even more.
1. The Island’s Rich History
The history of Maria Island stretches back before European settlement when the island was frequented by indigenous Australians in the summer months. The first European settlement on the island began in 1825 when it was set up as a penal colony, and later was used as a convict probation station. From the 1880s the island was used by Diego Bernacchi where he tried producing silk and wine, and finally concrete – where limestone was quarried from the Fossil Cliffs nearby. Many of the buildings used in these ventures are still present on the island today and form part of the township of Darlington. The island was also used for farming and several of these farm houses are visited during the walk. I was particularly captivated by the cottage which once belonged to Ruby Hunt, who operated the island’s two way radio linked with Hobart. This quaint cottage stands on the top of a cleared hill and looks out over the township. There was so much to explore around Darlington, I would love to return and learn more about its past!
2. The Stunning Beaches
Being an Island the Maria Island Walk has no shortage of coastline. You’ll discover on the walk that it has plenty of beaches, and in fact most of the walk is on or alongside the sand. If the weather is good you can go swimming. Our guide Luke told us about the 5 beaches challenge where there is an opportunity to swim at 5 beaches during the walk on the second day. We only managed two beaches before the weather came in, but it was lovely to swim in such beautiful waters.
3. The Incredible Food
The Maria Island walk is fully catered, with the guides cooking up all manner of delicious dishes for you to enjoy at the end of each day. We also received little lunch packs that we could eat during our daily lunch breaks. There was no shortage of Tasmanian cheese, beer, and wine, which certainly went down well after a long day’s walk.
4. The Rich Biodiversity of the Flora and Fauna
With the whole area being a dedicated National Park, the island is teeming with wildlife. From wallabies, wombats, lizards, pardalotes and Cape Barren Geese, there always seemed to be a new sighting around each corner. A succulent plant with the unfortunate name of ‘pigface’ was in flower during my time there, and had stunning displays along the beach dunes. There were many other flowers blooming too, putting on a beautiful display. There was really was a lot to see on our days walking!
5. The Tasmanian Devils
Ok so I don’t actually have any images to accompany this section, and that is understandably difficult when you are not fortunate enough to see one of these animals. There are almost 100 Tasmanian Devils on the island though and I was told if you hang out around Bernacchi House towards sunset you may be lucky enough to see one. Perhaps I might see one on my next visit!
6. The Wombats
When I was told about what to expect on Maria Island I was guaranteed to see a wombat on the Island. Those assurances were certainly true, and at dusk around Darlington I saw many of these furry guys grazing in the fields. It was so much fun to watch their antics and in the golden evening light they made great photographic subjects.
7. Haunted Bay
One of the personal highlights of the Maria Island Walk experience was the hike on the first day to Haunted Bay. I had never heard of this location before and when we arrived I was blown away by the spectacular scene. The southern end of Maria Island is composed of granite, and there were large granite cliffs that swept into the sea. It was quite reminiscent of a location called Sleepy Bay, which is located further north in Freycinet National Park. This was an incredible place to rest at the end of our hike and take in the views.
8. The View from Bishop and Clerk Mountain
I hadn’t seen an image taken from the summit of this mountain before, so I was very curious to know what it would be like. I found the walk up to the mountain to be really enjoyable. The walking track went past the tall fossil cliffs which were a spectacular sight, and the track gradually climbs through beautiful forest. The last push to the top gets a little steeper and then there is a rock scramble to the summit. The effort is well worth it with 360 degree views across the ocean, the rest of Maria Island and to mainland Tasmania. We could see familiar peaks of the Hazards at Freycinet Peninsula and also Schouten Island in the distance.
So that wraps up my 8 Maria Island experiences. This walk was a very unique adventure where a combination of great food, amazing wilderness, abundant wildlife and World Heritage listed history lead to an enthralling journey that has to be one of the best kept secrets in Tasmania.
You can find more information on the Maria Island Walk at the company website: http://www.mariaislandwalk.com.au/
If you like this post that please feel free to leave a comment below or ask me any questions you may have about the walk!